I Wish My Kids Could Have a 1980s Childhood Like Mine (and I’m Jealous of My Parents)

I even miss this guy.

max headroom

I mean let’s face it, commercials used to be ENTERTAIMENT (California Raisins, anyone?) and now they’re just trying to turn your kids into entitled greed monsters or give them a  mini sex-ed class. FACT. Come back, 80s TV!

4. Talking to Strangers

I’m not saying I made friends with Creepy McCreeperkins at the park or anything, but the 80s was a decade when you didn’t have to be afraid to help, or accept help, from a stranger. When I was a kid, my dad was very good with cars and he would always stop to help a motorist in need. Side of the highway, store parking lot, it didn’t matter where. We were never afraid that someone approaching us in a parking lot might actually be trying to lure us into sex trafficking. In the 80s you could offer help and friendliness without fear, and I feel like that time is definitely gone. By the time I was in college in the late 90s, it was no longer safe to help or accept help from a motorist and you were supposed to lock your doors and speed off as soon as you went from the store to your car. *Sigh*. I learned so many lessons in kindness from my dad helping strangers…and my kids are learning lessons in kindness from me in more “safe” ways.

5. Being Disconnected

I admit, I am a “nervous mother”, and I think it’s because I’ve had a cell phone for almost 20 years. I got my first one in 1999 and even though I used it only when driving several hours to and from college, I quickly became addicted to being connected. If my husband is gone 30 minutes longer than he says he will be, I think he’s dead. If my kids’ carpool is 15 minutes late, I start taking shallow breaths. Yes, I am a little crazy, I totally am!  But I also wish my kids were growing up in the day like I did when we didn’t worry when we were out of contact with our loved ones for a few hours, because that was all we knew. We didn’t sweat it because there was nothing to sweat! Long summer days? My mom didn’t need to know where I was all day. Now I secretly hope for text updates from another child’s mom during a playdate because I’m so USED to having a technological connection to my family 24/7. And it’s kinda DUMB. I miss my 1980s childhood, when if you wanted to talk on the phone, you needed to be in a house or have a roll of quarters—and no one worried if you didn’t! There was only cause for concern if you didn’t show up at home in time for the newest Cosby Show or Growing Pains episode.

There are a lot more than just those 5 things to miss about the fabulous decade that was the 1980s, (I haven’t even TOUCHED on the music!!) but those are some things that stick out to me about being a kid. But as a parent with a teen, a tween, and a first-grader, I also find myself longing at times for my parents’ 1980s experience. What must it have been like, I wonder, to not worry about your child becoming addicted to technology (we never even had video games, though they were invented during my parents’ tenure), learning about sex from readily-available Internet porn, or sending nude photos of themselves to others? Here in the digital age, I would argue that we face a myriad of parenting problems that our own folks never could have dreamed of.

And the PRESSURE: I alluded to it a few times above, but I envy my mom for not having social media, for not being slapped in the face with a barrage of Pinterest projects, organic dinners and a carefully chalkboard-lettered family mottos at every turn. In the 1980s, living simply and not broadcasting your every day parenting choices (much less your parenting “STYLE”), much less your home decor or lack thereof, was the norm. If people wanted to see your new La-Z-Boy recliner, they had to actually COME OVER to gawk at it. Now one COULD just post a photo of it, but only if it’s from Pottery Barn and is in a perfectly-decorated-and-proportioned, spotlessly clean room.

(This is why you will rarely see photos of my home. God may BLESS my mess, but everyone else will judge it.)

Don’t get me wrong, I am THANKFUL for my abundant life. But there are many things about it that make me envious of my parents and their rust-orange 1980s no-apologies shag carpet lifestyle, and the magnificent 1980s childhood experience they gave me to go with it.

Jenny Rapson
Jenny Rapson
Jenny is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and a freelance writer and editor.

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